The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union scored the governor on 12 categories, ranging from freedom of religion to transparency, and gave him a cumulative D-plus.
In "New Jersey Report Card," the group called his performance "frustrating" in that he "failed to back up bold words about civil rights and liberties with substantive action -- appearing to look the part of a civil liberties champion, rather than act it."
The report accused him of supporting same-sex marriages only when "it was clear he would not win," and undermined an important step for undocumented immigrant children by refusing to allow them to apply for financial aid. It said he took steps to limit free speech, and though he made positive efforts to assist voters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he still vetoed a measure that would extend early voting.
It accused him of deliberately undermining transparency and accountability efforts tied to the Bridgegate scandal and regularly refusing to release records and allow democratic participation.
"Gov. Christie's overall record on civil liberties and civil rights has been poor, ranging mostly from mediocre to failing," said Udi Ofer, the executive director of the ACLU-NJ. "The Christie administration's first-term record on civil liberties will be remembered for its assaults on judicial independence and the separation of church and state, as well as for its disdain for transparency."
"Historically, New Jersey has been perceived as being a strong example of judicial independence," Ofer said. "Governor Christie has tried to do everything in his power to ruin that."
Christie scored dismally in four categories in particular, earning F's for separation of church and state, transparency, separation of powers, and economic justice. Ofer said his record on judicial independence was "consistently bad."
"The real concern here is not what these grades mean for Gov. Christie and his administration, but what they've meant for everyday New Jerseyans," said ACLU-NJ Public Policy Director Ari Rosmarin. "From loving couples seeking to get married, to sick patients in need of medical marijuana, to poor New Jerseyans struggling to find an affordable place to live, many of us have not had a friend in the Governor's office."
The governor scored best on his support of freedom of religion (B) and voting rights (B-minus). He did less well with immigrants rights (C-plus), criminal justice and drug policy and women's rights (C), and for freedom of expression and privacy (C-minus).
Christie's office dismissed the scorecard in its entirety.
"I don't know, call me crazy, but does anyone think the ACLU could fairly assess anything we do that doesn't fit squarely into its agenda?" said spokesman Michael Drewniak.
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